Most adults start losing their teeth in their thirties. It starts as small things – the odd filling here and there. But then as we get into our forties and fifties, the pace increases. Eventually, more than 90 percent of people have missing teeth, fillings or a combination of both.
So what’s going on here? Is it natural?
The answer is not really. Yes, when people get very old – we’re talking over 90 – the gum starts to become less capable of holding teeth in place. But the vast majority of tooth loss before that time happens either because of illness, trauma or decay.
In some cases, serious illness can lead to tooth loss. It turns out that many diseases, such as cancer and diabetes, lead to a loss of oral health which, in turn, makes tooth loss and extractions more likely.
Some people also lose their teeth because of trauma. Physical blows to the face can knock teeth out of the jaw.
The good news is that dentists can repair many teeth that get knocked out. Often just storing the tooth in a glass of milk and then handing it to the dentist can enable them to reposition it and hold it in place.
Trauma can also result from chronic jaw clenching. If you grind your teeth at night because you’re stressed out all the time, then that can weaken the gum over time.
However, by far the biggest cause of tooth loss is gum disease. This is where bacteria slip down the side of the tooth and cause infection that weakens the gum holding it in place.
Decay is also a problem. This occurs when bacteria get inside the tooth itself and cause it to rot – something you can learn more about here.
How To Prevent Tooth Loss
The good news is that you can actually prevent tooth loss over the long-run. It just requires getting oral hygiene right.
Having a healthy mouth involves more than just brushing your teeth, flossing or using mouthwash. It also requires eating the right way.
The biggest problem in the Western diet is “sticky” foods. These are foods that your saliva can’t easily sweep away, causing them to remain in your mouth for longer. Because they are in your mouth for a long time, it gives bacteria more time to feast on them. That way, they can churn out more harmful byproducts, causing disease and infection.
The biggest culprit is sugar – something that our bodies never evolved to handle. But there are other threats too. Anything containing refined flours, such as breads, cookies and so on, is a major issue. Small particles remain in the mouth for a long time, and bacteria love to feed on them.
To keep yourself safe, avoid these foods. Stick to whole foods if you can. Not only will it make your teeth healthier, but the rest of your body will thank you for it as well.
Tooth loss isn’t one of life’s inevitabilities. But preventing it requires a change in lifestyle.